I had gone to bed at a reasonable time last night, wanting to make sure I could get up and not be late. Once a month, a few of us meet in the parking lot at 6:15 am to drive downtown to serve breakfast. But it was only 2 am. My eyes popped open. Ugh. Going to bed early was a mistake. Highly unusual. I never wake up in the middle of the night unless a storm is raging. Going to bed early? Big mistake. Now, I was hungry. I stumbled downstairs and made my emergency comfort: chicken broth, a bit of frozen corn, sliced cherry tomatoes and red pepper flakes–topped with a handful of mini-saltines. Now what? Eyes still popped.
I knew that one of our sons had been giving himself a crash-course in Italian for an upcoming trip. He was stressing out, worrying that he wouldn’t be able to reach a point of engaging with locals. So, I did a quick random search about languages (always the curious one). I don’t even remember what site I was on, but I’d taken note that Thomas Jefferson had been fluent in six languages: English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. John Adams knew five: besides English–there were French, Greek, Hebrew and Latin. The part that caught my eye was “The Jefferson Bible”. Jefferson had carefully constructed what he considered to be the essence of practical wisdom, cutting out words, phrases, paragraphs–gluing and making his own. It wasn’t intended for anyone but himself; he used it late at night or sometimes in the morning. I smiled to myself thinking, …”maybe at 2:00 am when his eyes popped open.” He especially liked Matthew. Oh well, sleep again, finally.
Workers filled the steam-heated serving pans. Lines formed. Thin Styrofoam plates. Paper towels for napkins. The organizer gathered a few of us and asked if anyone would be willing to read a few verses and lead the group in the Lord’s Prayer. “Um…I can do that.” I flipped through Matthew and thought about what Jefferson might have chosen. I decided to read the first few verses of Chapter 18.
The organizer gave directions as the hungry ones jockeyed for positions–then, my turn. What to say? What would be meaningful? My teacher voice took over and explained a few things about what I’ve been sharing here: the origin of evil means “uppity”, that we are all the equally important and deserving of validation–meant to see and meet each other on common ground. I talked about Einstein’s words, “The more I know, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” I shared about Jefferson’s Bible and the words from Matthew…”unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom…”– (the importance of listening intently to every word spoken to us–leaving preconceptions at the doorstep). I was feeling all eyes-but more. There was synchronicity. Everyone has their own story. Every story counts.
As they came through the line we caught each other’s eyes. Some commented with affirmations. In that moment I knew–2 am had not been a mistake.